Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy T.D., have today (Thursday 8 July) launched Ireland’s first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy, ‘AI – Here for Good’.
AI is part of a suite of digital technologies which will be critical drivers of productivity and competitive advantage for Ireland over the next five years.
The National AI Strategy will serve as a roadmap for how Ireland can leverage the potential of AI for unlocking productivity, for addressing societal challenges, and for delivering public services. It envisions a future for Ireland as an international leader in using AI to the benefit of business, public services, and - most importantly - for people, through a people-centered, ethical approach to AI development, adoption and use.
Speaking at the launch, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D. said:
“An important opportunity exists to reap significant opportunities from AI for society and the economy, though an ecosystem of innovation, excellence and trust. This Artificial Intelligence Strategy presents a framework for achieving this across enterprise and the public sector, including through skills, infrastructure, and appropriate governance.”
In recognition of the wide-ranging effect AI will have on our lives, this Strategy considers AI from a number of perspectives: Building public trust in AI, Leveraging AI for economic and societal benefit, and Enablers for AI.
The strategy sets out a whole of Government approach to putting the necessary enablers in place to underpin AI adoption in enterprise and public services, including a supportive innovation ecosystem, a secure data and connectivity infrastructure, and policies to ensure that the workforce is prepared for the impact of AI.
Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy T.D. said:
“AI is all around us and already changing how we learn, work and live: from how we shop and bank online, to how we use the apps on our phones. AI is helping us address some of the biggest challenges facing us – in areas such as climate action, public health, education and there is potential for so much more. Now is the time to put a coherent approach to AI in place to make sure that happens in a manner that is fair, transparent and builds public trust. While Government will play a key role in facilitating and enabling AI for Good, this is a journey involving all of society because if we are to really embrace the opportunity of AI, Ireland’s approach must ensure people, ethics and trust are central to its deployment and use.”
Among several strategic cross-government actions to build public trust in AI, Government will appoint an AI ambassador, to promote awareness and increase understanding among the public and businesses of the potential that AI offers.
At the launch, the Taoiseach and Minister Troy met the founders of Field of Vision, three technology students who have created a device which assists people with visual impairments in an immersive sports experience, using AI. The Field of Vision founders won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur award for 2021, and participated in the 2021 Alsessor AI accelerator programme in Tangent, TCD.
Minister Troy added “This is just one example of how innovative Irish entrepreneurs are using AI to do things that would have seemed impossible a few years ago. I launched the Alsessor programme last February and I am very impressed with the achievements of Field of Vision, and the other entrepreneurs on the programme. With this AI strategy, Government is committed to building an environment where innovation in AI can continue to flourish.
“This Strategy is an important step in Ireland’s journey towards becoming a leading international hub for responsible and ethical AI. We want to use AI to help us in creating a greener, more productive, and technologically responsive economy and society, but we need to create the right conditions for the technology to flourish. The National AI Strategy will serve as a roadmap for achieving this.”
Digital transformation, including the adoption of AI, across the enterprise base is a core focus for Government particularly for SMEs and the regional ecosystem. An Enterprise Digital Advisory Board will be established to advise and work with Government to drive enterprise adoption of digital technologies, including AI.
Membership of the Board will include representatives from industry and business, the public sector and government agencies, academia and AI experts. Furthermore, an AI Innovation Hub, as part of Ireland’s planned programme of European Digital Innovation Hubs, will be established to act as a National First Stop for AI, providing expertise and guidance to enterprises on their AI adoption journey
In welcoming the strategy, Enterprise Ireland’s Divisional Manager, ICT & International Services, Carol Gibbons said: “Enterprise Ireland welcomes this national AI Strategy as it poses significant benefits and opportunities for Irish enterprise in both the adoption and deployment of AI technologies. This is critical to driving the competitiveness and innovation of Irish businesses in international markets.”
The AI strategy is a deliverable under the Economic Recovery Plan, which was launched on 1 June. The Economic Recovery Plan has been developed by Government to achieve rapid job creation and economic growth after the pandemic, with the objective of exceeding the pre-crisis employment levels of 2.5 million people in work by 2024. The plan is focused on getting people back to work, re-building sustainable enterprises, and fostering a balanced and inclusive recovery.
About the AI strategy
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to machine-based systems, with varying levels of autonomy, that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations or decisions using data. AI is expected to play a major role in shaping global competitiveness and productivity over the coming decades, granting early adopters significant societal, economic, and strategic advantages.
Government has developed this National AI strategy, which is a deliverable under the Economic Recovery Plan, to ensure that Ireland harnesses the potential of AI in a way that builds user confidence and trust, and which is accountable and acceptable to society. The whole of Government strategy sets objectives for increased productivity and better public service outcomes through the use of AI. It also sets out a roadmap for a secure and supportive enabling environment so that innovation and adoption of AI can thrive within an appropriate governance framework.
The AI strategy is set out in eight thematic strands:
1: AI and Society
Addressing societal impacts of AI and seizing opportunities for AI to solve societal challenges.
2: A governance ecosystem that promotes trustworthy AI
Designing a responsible and responsive governance environment for AI that supports innovation and respects ethical principles and human rights.
3: Driving adoption of AI in Irish enterprise
Promoting AI adoption by Irish enterprise.
4: AI Serving the Public
Public Sector leadership in adoption of AI.
5: A strong AI innovation ecosystem
Innovating with AI for a supportive RDI ecosystem; enterprise-level understanding, development and deployment of AI.
6: AI Education, Skills and Talent
Generating appropriate skills and education for AI and ensuring access to talent.
7: A supportive and secure infrastructure for AI
Building a robust, secure and effective data, digital and connective infrastructure as a key enabler for AI.
8: Implementation of the strategy
- Appointment of an AI ambassador
- Establishment of an AI Innovation Hub, to act as a National First Stop for AI; providing expertise and guidance to enterprises on their AI adoption journey;
- An AI programme for enterprise of targeted funding and advisory measures for AI adoption;
- A national AI cluster or platform to drive collaboration between MNCs and SMEs;
- Consultation with children and young people about AI through Comhairle na nÓg;
- Establishment of AI testbeds and experimentation facilities;
- A coherent approach to public service AI adoption;
- A study of AI skills needs by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs;
- A framework for trustworthy data governance across the private sector and tools and methodologies to apply the framework;
- Increased availability of open Government data; and
- A standards and assurance roadmap for AI.
Ireland’s first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy, ‘AI – Here for Good’ can be found here.